I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to write anything, but in between my all consuming, last-minute-class-planning-and-student-paper-reading, and my related but useless empty-headed-wall-staring-or-drinking, I found a little time to think about this project. What I mean to say is, I thought about it without meaning to, while simultaneously staring at walls or strangers on the subway.
I didn’t want this project to be cathartic. I don’t think the need for catharsis is a reason to write, and I don’t like reading work that’s reaching for it. However, I seem to have achieved some anyway. Since starting this blog, I’m less attached to my original narrative about my parents—a little less “poor me.” I never thought about my parents much, but now I think about them even less. When I do, I don’t feel much friction. While I’m sure that sounds fucked up to some people, I think it’s a good thing. When I used to think about my parents, it was usually through subconscious connections or a need to “work something out.” The fact that they’re not bubbling up as often must mean I’m not struggling as much with what happened.
I was telling a friend about this project on Friday night, which was random because I’m not talking about it with anyone. We were talking about our own lives, our false starts and distractions. He’s recently married and finding it hard to stay faithful; I’m in a totally committed relationship but scared of actual marriage. I brought up this project because what happened to my parent’s seemed relevant to our conversation. I thought we could learn something from them, and I told him what I’m discovering.
As I was talking, I realized I’m forging a new relationship with my mom and dad. Not so I can “find a way to miss them,” as I wrote here way back when. It’s not so I can do anything specific. But by virtue of examining their lives, while I am also examining my own (all the time and to the point of exhaustion), I’m starting to think about my parents as if they were my friends. I wonder and worry about their relationship, and I find myself commiserating with them. How does anyone get this shit right? If my friend and I are talking about our relationships, they must have been talking about their relationship to their friends. Did they freak out or falter? Did they see things happening and wish they could stop them, then watch them happen anyway?
I feel my parents could be me. That I am each of them. All of that stuff. Their lives were very different from mine—by my age they had two kids and owned a house—so maybe they didn’t have the time or inclination to obsess about their lives the way I do, but I imagine them with the narcissism of the generation they helped spawn, so I assume they did. Their relationship died a long death; they had plenty of time.
Knowing my parents went through some of the same things my friends and I are going through—they tried to get it right but didn’t, they did for a while, but then things just went wrong—is sad, but it’s also comforting. I guess it means I might not be doing as badly as I think I am. If we’re all flawed and that’s the norm, then maybe I’m getting B+’s across the board. It really makes me wonder how much of what I want is real.